Ikea Organizes Your Computer Desktop.

This actually launched a few weeks back, but I haven’t been to the Ikea site for a while so I just discovered it today.

Ikea Working with interactive agency Laboratory Ideas in Budapest has developed a virtual desktop based on the popular shelving system EXPEDIT that is designed to help you organize your virtual desktop in addition to the physical space in your life. The E-Folder organizer tasks decorative IKEA storage bins with acting as desktop folders on the shelves of the popular bookcase.

“We prepared a useful, design-conscious and cost-effective way – true to IKEA’s values – to organize and store your stuff even in your second home, your computer. You can download the IKEA e-Folder set, which consists of a background picture with an EXPEDIT storage unit and an icon set made of IKEA’s very own organizers to put order to the chaos on your Desktop. The e-Folder set can be already downloaded from three countries’ IKEA websites (Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary).” Laboratory Ideas

Design Friday. Eve Zeisel, 104 Years of Living Artistry.

At 104 years old Eva Zeisel is as vibrant and involved in the design world as she was 80 years ago when she began her career in Europe. Known for  her work with ceramics, Zeisel declares herself a “maker of useful things”, but her useful things are beautiful to look at and elegant in form.

At age 17 Zeisel entered Kepzomuveszeti Academia (the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts originally studying painting, but switched her field of study to design at the persuasion of her mother to engage in a career path that would be more lucrative in the long run. Zeisel apprenticed herself to the guild of potters and began to learn the craft of fine ceramics. In 1925 she left the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts to work with a master potter in Budapest expanding her skills with ceramics and, her design aesthetic. Zeisel was the first woman to master the craft of ceramic manufacture, and in 1928 she applied for work with a series German ceramic manufacturers.

In mid 1928 Zeisel became the lead designer for the Schramberger Majolikafabrik in Germany where she worked for just over two years creating a range of designs for tea sets, vases, inkwells and other ceramic items. Ziesel’s designs at Schramberg were largely based on geometry and were influenced by the Bauhaus design school in Weimar and later Dessau.

In 1932 Zeisel moved to the Soviet Union to live with her brother, and to work in the ceramics field designing not only ceramic objects for a number of companies, but designing ceramics manufacturing plants as well. in 1936 Zeisel was arrested and held in prison for 16 months, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement, after being accused of being involved in an assassination attempt against Joseph Stalin. Upon her release, she was deported to Vienna where she met her husband Hans Zeisel. In 1938 she and her husband moved to New York with only 64.00 dollars to their name. Less than two months later, Nazi Germany annexed Austria.

Zeisels career in the United States blossomed in the 1940’s, as she began to design pieces for General Mills, Rosenthal China, and Castellon. In the early 1940’s she taught one of the first courses in industrial design taught at the Pratt Institute, and in 1946 she had her first one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

In the mid 1960’s she retired from commercial design to focus on personal works. This lasted for almost 20 years, until returning to produce designs for Nambe, Chantal, and Klien Reid in the mid 1980’s. She continued to design new works including the famous coffee table that waas produced for her own company Eva Zeisel Originals, and distrbuted by Design Within Reach. Her most current line of dinnerware is named “101” and manufactured by Royal Stafford, sold exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. Zeisel has released two designs in 2010 through The Eva Zeisel Lounge Chair, and Eva Zeisel Salt & Pepper Shakers.

Not only do I hope that I make it to 104 years of age, but I hope I am as vibrant, energetic, and still producing art at that age. Her work is masterful, and elegant, working with simple forms and shapes often hinting at more complex forms, that draw from classic design.

A Czech Travel Agencies New Viral Campaign? It Should Be.

European tourism is recovering after the global financial crunch, and travel agencies are really feeling the crunch. In a brilliant marketing move a new travel agency launched what appears to be a new viral campaign developed by a newly formed Czech travel agency, “Toy Travel”.  The website that has already attracted more than 15,000 visitors in the last week, with limited marketing and promotion.

The travel agency is offering trips for your stuffed toys. For a fee of between 90 to 150 Euros, your most loved stuffed toy can be shown the sights of Prague by ‘Toy Traveling – Travel Agency for stuffed animals and cuddly toys’ and have his photo taken in front of its landmarks. The first destination on the list for clients is Prague. But Budapest, Bratislava, Munich, Berlin and other European cities are soon to join in.

The website is the brainchild of a 22-year-old decorator, Marek Hlavka who pitched the idea to a Shark Tank-style TV reality show in the Czech Republic last month.

Two of the Czech TV show judges each gave 5,500 Euro each to make the traveling plush a reality.

One of the judges, businessman Tomio Okamura, said, “As we start, we’re focusing on north American and Japanese markets, where there is a huge amount of people that own stuffed animals.”

The concept was inspired by the 2001 film “Amelie from Montmartre” in which the heroine has pictures of her father’s garden gnome posed in front of various world landmarks sent to him to convince him to fulfil his dream of touring the world.

I just keep thinking If they include hooks to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and incorporate geo-location services this could become a global phenomenon. Imagine if this campaign took a  picture of your Plush, and then pushed the photo with geo-location data to all of the above mentioned sites, which notify all of your social network contacts. Think of it as a visual version of 4 Square for your stuffed animals. Toy should consider turning this into a contest where the plush with the most travel stops and photos wins a trip to a European city for its owners.